Former India captain Rahul Dravid reckons that data can play a vital role to assess how a player can be more successful in the game. Recalling his role for Rajasthan Royals (RR) in 2012-2013, Dravid said that they bought former Australia cricketer Brad Hodge in the auction, despite his poor performance in T20s in India.
“I was in a sort of captain-coach role for RR and we were going through a lot of data and stats. We wanted a good finisher in our team. I saw Hodge’s stats. His performance in T20Is in Australia was phenomenal but not in India. He struggled against left-arm spin bowling and leg spinners. But against pacers his stats were really good,” said the 44-year-old former India captain, during an online panel discussion- ‘Insights vs Instincts’ organised by the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai on Saturday (August 1).
RR realised that getting Hodge into the team could help them get the firepower in the last 5 overs to maximise their run-scoring since they did not have anyone in the mould of Kieron Pollard (MI), or MS Dhoni (CSK) in their team for the 2013 edition of the IPL.
“Every team brings best fast bowlers in death overs and so we wanted Hodge, who usually played at number three, to play during death overs. And it actually succeeded. And then we were able to show him why we wanted him to play during death overs. So here we can use data to even convince a player which is very important,” Dravid added.
Hodge went on to play a crucial role in helping RR qualify for the play-offs under Rahul Dravid in 2013. He was the third-highest run-scorer (293 Runs at 134.4 SR) for RR in that edition of the IPL behind Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid.
Hodge’s new role outside of the top-3, helped him discover a new niche role that helped RR find an immense value that season. It also helped Hodge bag a place in the Australian T20 World Cup squad of 2014 in Bangladesh.
Giving more examples of cricketing instinct and data, Dravid said, Chennai Super Kings is a great example of how a side blends in both of it (instinct and data).
“They have access to data, run cricket at the junior level for various teams, and have a great scouting system in place. What they really have is a captain who understands instinct,” Dravid said adding, “Dhoni is not someone who is going to look at reams of data, statistics. He is not going to get involved in the auction process in so much detail. CSK’s management know what right metrics to see while they assemble a squad”.
He further said, “Once the squad is handed over to the coach and captain, the cricketing instincts matter from thereon. A coach and a captain like Dhoni do that at every level. On that particular day, a captain may be able to notice that a player’s form is not that good. A captain needs good data- background support to get a good squad to choose from.”
“On the field, it’s critical that Dhoni’s instincts help CSK in the heat of the battle to make the right choices. A captain’s ability to read the game better comes from instinct, which Dhoni clearly has’. You need this deadly combination of data and instinct to make it the most successful team in the IPL.”
Former BCCI chairman N Srinivasan also echoed Dravid’s sentiments by saying that ‘Data and statistics cannot substitute match temperament’.
He mentioned that it’s not fair to call it instinct or intuition, but it should be called knowledge that players acquire by observing other players’. Srinivasan also mentioned that someone like Dhoni or Dravid can look at a player once and know if they are a good player or not. They may not know statistics but they know the strength and weakness of a player on the field of play.